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Funny thing about funerals

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is that you see people you haven’t seen in years.  The other thing is you get to see another side to the deceased – and meet people who were in their lives you’ve never met before.

On Thursday, we had a memorial service for my grandparents.  It was truly beautiful.  The funeral director was very caring and helpful.  The minister who presided over the service was great, and the Eulogy given by my mother was beautiful, and very touching.  A few other people spoke.  I had Maddie on my lap, and knew it would be a scene if I put her down to go talk.  It’s a shame I didn’t, but I’m okay with it.  I’ve talked a lot about them lately, and I know they knew I loved them like crazy.

Afterwards, there was a reception at my mom & dad’s house.  I don’t know if technically this is called a “wake” – I honestly haven’t been to many funerals and don’t know the terminology, I suppose.  It was a gathering of friends and family to eat, drink, talk, and remember.

I spent most of my time at the party taking care of the kids – getting them food, finding a place for them to eat, having Maddie, the 3-year-old, on my lap because she was a little freaked out by all the people in the house.  Toward the end of the evening, a couple came up to me and said, “You’re the only one we haven’t talked to!”  (I had seen them earlier, for just a second, and recognized them enough to know I’d met them, but not enough to know who they were for sure.) “You probably don’t remember us, but we’re Jim and Margie…”

I jumped up immediately and hugged them.  Floods of memories of Christmases at my grandparents’ house filled me, and I instantly remembered them, and even what they looked like when I last saw them, almost 30 years ago.  He was missing his ponytail and handlebar mustache, but he looked the same!  And she always had such a warm, inviting smile, and an infectious laugh.  Jim had been my Uncle Terry’s best friend for a long time.  After Terry died at such a young age, Jim asked my grandfather to be his best man, since Terry couldn’t be.  I’ve always remembered that and was so moved  by both men in that story.  It was so great to catch up with them!

The other part of the funeral is the flip side – meeting people who were in my grandparents’ lives I’d never met before.  Lovely people in their 70s and 80s who were their friends and neighbors.  One lady who even spent time with my grandma just 2 days before she died.  Each one of these people touched my heart.  They had such wonderful things to say about both of them, and they ALL knew who I was, and who my kids were.  “She loved those kids – and her grandkids- more than anything.”  they’d tell me.  “Those Pasadena Punkins she called them.”  “She was so proud of all of you!”  “Those great grandkids gave her such joy.”

Writing those words chokes me up.  I’m so glad that my little rascals brought her so much joy.  I know it’s rare for people my age to still have their grandparents.  I know that it’s rare for my kids to have known 6 great grandparents in their lives.  We are so lucky to have had them in our lives for so long, and they truly were an amazing presence for all of us.

Though the last few days of the memorial, the funeral mass, and the burial service, were extremely sad, my grandparents once again brought us all together.  My brothers and I, our spouses, my parents, my children, extended family and friends, got together and remembered to incredible people.  And reminded us all to cherish each other while we’re all still here.

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